Are You a Conservative?

In his Sun column the other day, right-wing radio windbag Charles Adler asked readers to take “a quiz of sorts” to “decide whether you’re a Canadian conservative or something else”… What followed was part of the transcript from a controversial radio interview with former Alberta judge, now Liberal candidate, John Reilly:

Rutherford: You shouldn’t go to jail for a sex assault?

Reilly: Well, you know, there are sexual assaults and there are sexual assaults.

Rutherford: Sure?

Reilly: And I had another young man, not a young offender, but a 19, 20-year-old. He’s at a party, there’s a lot of sexual innuendo, one of these women is being very aggressive with her boyfriend and they’re drinking a lot, the boyfriend passes out, she goes, gets into bed naked, he goes up, he’s thinking he’s going to be able to, that she’ll probably agree to have sex with him, he fondles her privates, and she wakes up and tells him to go away, and he goes away.

They report it, he’s charged with sexual offence, he has digitally penetrated her, the Crown prosecutor says this is a digital penetration of a woman’s vagina, he should go to jail for three years, that’s the starting point for this sexual offence.

And I’m looking at this 20-year-old, socially inept young man, and his offence is a sexual assault and it’s one that they consider a major sexual assault because it involves digital penetration. I don’t think in those circumstances that what happened there should put that young man in a penitentiary for three years.

Rutherford: Unless it’s your daughter, and then maybe you’ve got a whole other perspective! You haven’t mentioned the word “victim” once yet!

Reilly: You know, I am concerned about victims, but what I’m concerned about is our society as a whole.

I see absolutely nothing wrong in what former Justice Reilly said, so I guess by the terms of Addled Chuck’s little quiz, I must be a Liberal (or worse!). The example he provided illustrated his point quite well, I thought. While the young man’s behaviour in this case was totally inappropriate, it most certainly didn’t warrant a 3-year jail sentence. As Reilly quite correctly said, “there are sexual assaults and there are sexual assaults.”

Is this really what it means to be a “conservative” to people like Adler and his ilk? And is this typical of their “tough on crime” mentality in action? What conceivable purpose would be served by incarcerating a teenager for 3-years in a penitentiary at a cost to the taxpayer of $150,000 — for fingering his drunken girlfriend at a party? No wonder they want to build more jails if they’re going to start throwing people in the slammer for offences like that.



Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Conservatism, Crime & Punishment, Liberals, Michael Ignatieff

35 responses to “Are You a Conservative?

  1. Prairiekid

    You see nothing wrong with what Reilly said? Is digital penetration not sexual assault? I guess this is why Liberals don’t want anymore prisons. They want rapists to go back on the street and continue on doing what they were doing. All these rapists are just misunderstood people who just need a few programs to put them on the right track. Unfortunately, your view is expressed by many many Liberals. Fortunately, this will come home to roost in May.

  2. I think what Judge Reilly was saying was an important judicial issue. Not all crimes can be painted with the same broad brush. Some are worse than others and it is the job of a judge to make these determinations. The US model has taught us that indiscriminately filling the prisons does nothing to bring the crime rate down and prisons become the training schools for more criminals. A proper criminal justice system reforms criminals and helps them become productive members of society. The Tories crime agenda will, in the long run, make things much worse, as well as creating a professional-style criminal class. But this is typical Tory simplemindedness. Don’t bother trying to understand the problem or find meaningful solutions just sledge-hammer everything, particularly the working-class. Tories are little more than cave-men.

  3. CWTF

    It’s funny when a nuanced case is labelled this way by hypocritical Conservatives.
    I wonder why more cons are not angry at all the dodgy characters around Harper…
    I get the feeling when the “I told you so moment” comes from Conservative mismanagement it will be the fault of others (as it usually is with these children).

  4. Prairiekid: If you can’t see the difference between this particular case and that of a more typical rapist, then you sir, are a moronic idiot.

    Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is saying that “rapists are just misunderstood people, etc.” Yes, they may be psychologically fucked up for whatever reason (perhaps victims of rape or abuse themselves), but that is no excuse and they should be subject to the full penalty of the law.

    That said, there should be enough elasticity in the law to make distinctions by degree based on various circumstances. This seems to be where “conservatives” (by Adler’s definition — you know, catastrophic thickwits like you) come up short, because you see the world in terms of black and white, yes/no, on/off, good/evil. Others however, recognize that reality is almost never that simplistic or straightforward.

  5. CWTF: Nuanced… Precisely.

    The Conbots just can’t deal with that. It screws up their crude programming modules.

  6. Bob

    Sure Martin……….how’s your med supply?

  7. Gayle

    Interestingly, Rob Nicholson has openly mused about changing the sexual assault provisions in the criminal code to better reflect the facts of the particular offence. Right now we have 13 year old kids who grabbed a girl’s breast convicted of the same crime as a 34 year old man who forced sexual intercourse on his victim.

    There is rape, and there is sexual assault, and there is groping. It is shameful that the Canadian justice system groups them as the same offence.

  8. Gayle


    Go fuck yourself.

  9. Prairiekid

    Then answer this question. Do you believe unwanted digital penetration is sexual assault?

    And Gayle, way to stick up for your fellow women. I can tell you this. If this was a Conservative judge the media and this blog would be freaking out.

  10. Bob: Zzzzz. You really need some new material there, bub.

  11. ridenrain

    To use Count Iggy’s terminology, is that a felony or not?

  12. PK: Yes, depending on the circumstances, it can be certainly described as such. I think however you really missing the point here by getting tripped up in an ultra-strict interpretation of the legal terminology. Or just being willfully obdurate (my bet!) because you know full well that it isn’t as dead simple as you make it out to be.

  13. CWTF

    I wonder why PrairieKid is not demanding that the Law and Order Conservatives place Rahim in jail? Or find some suitable punishment for the Conservatives that are in contempt of parliament…

    I guess that anything more complex than regurgitating Con talking points is beyond his abilities…

  14. Manchild

    Charles Adler is one of the sickest ignoramuses to ever pollute the airwaves. But he is a typical Reform / Harper / Fascist / Tea Party conservative. Not to be confused with traditional law abiding quasi-intelligent fiscal conservatives who respect democracy and understand nuance and flexibility. Those conservatives no longer have a home in Canada – except perhaps in the right wing of the Liberal Party. What’s really going on here is gutter politics at its worst. Adler and his ilk, were waiting for something like this so they can totally distort, malign, and discredit the Liberals in order to deflect the negative attention away from the conservative party on the corruption, contempt, lies and fraud that abound within the conservative party. Classic conservative diversionary tactics. That is right up the Adler alley.

  15. Gayle

    PK – don’t you think you should take your complaint to Rob Nicholson, since I just happen to be agreeing with him?

  16. Gayle

    “Then answer this question. Do you believe unwanted digital penetration is sexual assault?”

    No. Ask yourself a question instead. Should digital penetration carry the same sentence as tying a victim up and have sexual intercourse with him or her without consent, not only causing trauma but also the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

    If your answer is no, then you agree with me, Rob Nicholson and Reilly.

  17. Gayle: As I said, it’s a matter of degrees and this is something that people like PK, who seemingly live in a world of absolutes, just can’t seem to grasp.

  18. Prairiekid

    If you like this Reilly so much, do a little research and see how often his peers have chastised him.

    “Last October, it knocked Reilly over a 90-day sentence he gave to man who molested a 14-year-old developmentally disabled girl on a Greyhound bus. The court quadrupled that sentence to 12 months.

    And in March 2010, the court overturned another conditional sentence Reilly gave a former guidance counsellor who had pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of gross indecency in a case in which three junior high school girls were molested. The court instead sent the man to jail for three years.”

    I don’t live in a world of absolutes. But just look at the pattern. Of course you’ll spin this somehow to make yourself feel good about your decision.

  19. philosoraptor

    Unless it’s your daughter, and then maybe you’ve got a whole other perspective!

    What if it was your son on the other side of the issue?

    I’m serious.

    It’s always easy to take a narrow view of these things, but the fact is that sex is confusing when you’re young, and in my experience it doesn’t get any less confusing through the late teens and into the twenties, when there is more experimentation happening (and more drinking or other substances). I have known and still know lots of girls that would not think it proper to send someone to prison for three years for trying to initiate sex after a night of drinking, especially under arguably one of the three or four worst criminal charges someone can have. In fact, I’ve known many situations where the initiating was undertaken by the female. Clearly this guy misread his particular girl, but given the details as they are, I don’t think this warrants a 3 year sentence either. I would have a very hard time putting a person in jail as a sexual criminal for three years (effectively ruining their life) for trying to get onto a girl after a night of drinking and sexual innuendo – especially given that he stopped when she said no. If this were one of my daughters (both of whom, my wife and I have decided, will not lack for a healthy understanding/awareness of their sexuality) I would urge a reasonable perspective on the matter that recognizes the incredibly serious consequences of a sexual assault charge balanced against the inevitable awkwardness, confusion, and plain stupidity found in human sexual behaviour, particularly in youth.

    (Notice I used the phrase “given the details as they are” in the blurb above…)

    After discussing this with my wife, we recognized that – as usual – the details and the context of the case are vitally important. This is the problem with mandatory sentencing, of course; it ignores these details. Given the facts of the case provided here, the liberals are inclined to fill in the blanks with context to suit their interpretation, and the conservatives will do the same. However, we will talk in circles about the case because we don’t *know* these extra details and we can only assume them to facilitate discussion. Each side will assume their context and talk about how their ruling is therefore correct. This shows why, in the real world, the context is the thing that is the most important, and this is exactly the thing that is lost by minimum mandatory sentences, and exactly the reason why they cripple our justice system rather than improve it.

  20. philosoraptor


    On the face of it, I can’t imagine a situation where molesting a 14-year old developmentally disabled girl would be a minor offense, but a) I expect a court of law to dig into the affair deeper than the single sentence you’ve given to describe it, and b) even if Reilly misjudged that one it says nothing about the other case at all. Finally if a judge hands down a sentence or two that is excessively harsh (rather than too lenient), or that is based on a ridiculous minimum mandatory sentence that doesn’t fit the crime, are we also free to judge all of his other sentences based on the harshness of those?

  21. PK: You simply took what was proffered up by The Sun the other day when slamming the “Wildcard Judge”, digested it whole and then pooped it out here.

    But not quite whole. At least The Sun attempted to make a nod towards journalistic credibility. You on the other hand, quite selectively omitted another case cited by the paper where one of Reilly’s decisions was found by the Appeals Court to have been overly harsh.

    Guess that would have conflicted with your partisan, utterly blinkered narrative of claiming to see a pernicious “pattern” of some kind, huh?

    Evidently, you’re quite brazenly deceitful when it comes to advancing your agenda.

  22. Dave: Good point. I wasn’t really viewing the matter from the perspective of Adler’s hypothetical as it seemed quite irrelevant to the facts of the matter. What Adler was doing there was just a cheap ploy by a demagogic hack to induce an emotional reaction… But even considered as such, you’re absolutely right about their being two sides to the issue. If it were my son caught up in that situation, I would be absolutely horrified to see him get railroaded into a 3-year prison sentence that could destroy his life over an inept and woefully inappropriate sexual miscalculation.

  23. Bob. Go fuck yourself.

    Shhhh! Don’t give him ideas, Gayle. The last thing we want is to help him discover the only way he’ll ever reproduce.

    About Adler—isn’t it precious how these oafish outhouses of the intellect arrogate to themselves the right to define Canadian conservatism? I love the smirking, pimpish impudence with which the unreflecting media coolies of a government that recently declared its intention to “go over the head of the Governor General” if it wasn’t allowed to violate the constitution and is currently led by a man disgracefully on record with his hatred of key Canadian institutions (and, frankly, of Canada itself) presume to carry back to the kneeling masses the tablets of the Law, as if they had the faintest capacity to detect conservatism in any form other than its haemorrhoidal parody as peddled by the log-rolling CPC apparatchiks of the Calgary School.

  24. Most brilliantly put, as always.

  25. KC

    Part of the problem on this one is that the Liberal leader came out quickly and called Reilly’s comments “despicable”. Does that mean he lacks nuance too? (I think so).

  26. jkg

    by a man disgracefully on record with his hatred of key Canadian institutions

    Indeed, but for the faithful, the long documented history of showing that contempt for institutions created during the Dominion were just instances of daring to suggest improvements. Andrew Potter made the claim that Harper was some sort of ‘insecure migrant’ and reiterated that Harper’s open hostility was also an indication of certain loathing of governmental institutions (that were once, in fact, defended by conservatives before his time). Of course, since Harper was ‘merely daring to suggest improvements,’ Potter was being an Ontario Snob no doubt. For some reason, daring to suggest to go over the head of the governour general was entirely acceptable benefit to the health of our democratic republic Westminster parliamentary system.

    I don’t find this particularly surprising. The obtuseness stemming from the rhetorical tricks of neoconservatives like Adler has a common formulation: Reduce the position down to short sound bytes as a way of painting people like Reilly as holding repugnant positions never claimed. In fact, I think people like Adler enjoy it when context and nuance are introduce because they can reflexively repeat and insinuate their invented positions. The usual clues come up from with the words “basically,”” which is code for “I am not actually going to represent fairly your point and just return to something more convenient.” Deflect, invent, smear, and repeat.

  27. jkg

    I messed up my strikeout code, let me fix that before I give the wrong impression:

    *democratic republic Westminster parliamentary

  28. jkg

    Oh for the love of, sorry Red:
    democratic republic Westminster parliamentary

  29. D.I.D.

    I agree in principle with the judge Reilly, but think he made his point very poorly. Rather than warble on like he did, oddly engaged in a sexual scene, he should have been much more stark to better illustrate, like this; “Should someone who tied up a person and forcibly raped them be given the same sentance as someone who merely made unwanted sexual contact (ex: groping)? Both are utterly unexceptable in our society, but one crime is obviously more severe than another.”

    I am going to disagree with the erstwhile consensus here about the “justice” system in this country, however. True, we should try to reform young offenders, but we have to realise that some crimes and are of such immorality that the perpetrators deserve punishment far more than they deserve understanding. I agree with the Cons that the justcie system is too lenient on some classes of offenders; there, I said it. But I also agree with you guys that the Conservative proposals are too harsh. We need a mixed, moderate approach for the best results, IMHO.

    Consider this: seven years ago, my family’s closest neighbour suffered repeated robberies within one week. When the father of that household caught the thief red-handed, (the thief was armed with a handgun, apparently) and shot him in the foot with a rifle (disable, not kill) to prevent him from escaping, the theif proceeded to sue him in court – and won $20,000 in ‘reparations’. Try telling him that the justice system does not need at least some reform!

  30. KC: I have to admit that I didn’t like Ignatieff’s reaction, but that’s just politics. Of course he had to unequivocally denounce Reilly’s comments in the strongest possible terms because otherwise the braying dogs of the Right would have mercilessly slammed him. Unfortunately, an election campaign is the absolute worst time for a “nuanced” argument over complex issues because the corporate media has difficulty masticating and processing that into tasty little sound bites for the nightly news.

  31. JKG: NP. Third time lucky!

    It’s not a tactic unique to Adler and his ilk, but throwing up a strawman and then knocking it down is surprisingly common in the editorial pages of the Sun media chain.

  32. Sickening, absolutely sickening! I already took 900ft Jesus to task the other day for initially thinking Ignatief had been too soft in not bouncing out this judge at his blog, as did another blogger named Alison, since this was clearly about mandatory sentences and that the actual context of the statement made that absolutely clear AND also made clear that this was not a case of forced intercourse rape but of digital penetration under clearly ambiguous circumstances that was ceased immediately upon the first no given. To even considering equating the punishments between the two illustrates the inherent dangers and damages done by mandatory minimum sentences and why they far from being a good thing in crime prevention are in fact nothing more than an expensive additional punishment of not just the offenders but of society itself since it makes mild offenders out to be as bad as the worst within an offence, makes any chance of rehabilitation nigh on impossible, and increases the need for massive prisons which drain massive amounts of tax dollars to maintain all to release in the end more hardened criminals who have seen little to no reason to reform, become embittered by their treatment and therefore more likely to re-offend either out of desperation for lack of positive circumstances to live their lives or out of bitterness over their lives and how the system screwed them.

    The conservativism I grew up knowing would have been appalled by such reasoning and outcomes and seen it as a further drain of both tax dollars AND of inherent potential of the citizens themselves. While yes punishment is part of what needs being done there is also rehabilitation to help as many as can be saved from becoming repeat offenders from doing so (a savings not just of tax dollars but of human suffering by reducing victims, supposedly an important goal of Conservatives to hear them talk these days). There is also the need to remember that unless we are locking them away for life until they die there is also the need to make sure they can be redirected as much as possible into less threatening/damaging avenues for whatever issues they have that drove them into becoming such criminals in the first place. Again, this will not work for all but every one that is saved is a crime prevented, a victim or victims never being created and tax dollars saved both from the aftermath of the crime and from not having to imprison them. I went into this tangent to underscore the reliance of traditional conservative thought to being rational on the issue of crime in society and not being only into the punitive aspects alone (as the modern CPC and its partisans clearly are) and for reasons that were grounded not just in so called fluffy liberal lefty thinking but sound rational grounded logical practical conservative thinking, something we are not seeing from Adler and the modern CPC and its partisans.

    Being someone that has seen far too much sexual abuse up close and personal from multiple vantage points I have some real issues with those that demeans, diminish, and especially dismiss the ugly reality of it in our society. What this judge was doing was none of the above. What Adler and those of like mind to him was however taking a very real and serious issue and essentially act like a false claimant of rape with the equivalent type of damage towards the credibility of those that suffer the actual reality when they try to be heard! IOW I am more than a little sickened by what this columnist AND those in this thread that have chosen to take up that charge of his are doing even above and beyond the normal level of disgust such CPC partisans usually trigger in me.

    As you know RT, in some respects I am a traditional Canadian conservative in my thinking as in others I am very much a liberal in others, and yet centrist pragmatic in yet others again, but what ever else I am I am utterly repulsed by the disgusting way the CPC partisans are willing to abuse the reality of sexual assault and rape for their partisan agenda as they have in the way they have attacked this judge’s comments. This comes entirely too close to raping rape victims for partisan gain for my liking, and yes I know that is a harsh way to put it but I really have to say I think it fits in this specific case.

    As for Ignatief’s response, politically don’t see he had a choice because of the current gotcha politics practised in our modern campaigns especially since Harper came to the national leadership scene, but I also think he had to defend his left flanks from Layton using it to whack him and the Libs with as much as the right flank from the Harper CPC. Personally, I think a good chance to actually talk about serious policy issues was missed, as the need to actually deal rationally with the concept of minimum sentences is really needed give their real costs to the taxpayer and society at large as proven in the USA over the past few decades.

  33. Scotian: Very well said.

    Great to see you back, by the way.

  34. Noncon: No, I hadn’t heard that one. Incredible!

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